What went wrong with Colombia against Japan?

Colombia made their debut in the 2018 World Cup yesterday in Saransk. It was an upsetting result for the Colombians around the world. Jose Pekerman needs to fix some mistakes and change some things around for the next match against Poland in Kazan.

Some plays and decisions influenced the team’s poor performance throughout the match. Carlos Sanchez was quickly sent off after stopping a definite chance of a goal for Japan with his right hand in the penalty box. The referee awarded a penalty for Japan, and Shinji Kagawa scored from the spot. Colombia played a man down for almost the entire match. The Cafeteros struggled to control the ball and decided to do fast breaks.

Mistake #1: It took about 20 minutes for Pékerman to determine for an improvement in the defensive game. He decided to take out Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and put on Wilmar Barrios. He told Quintero to play on the right side of the field. Pekerman should have quickly put Mateus Uribe on for Juan Fernando Quintero after Japan scored. Put Mateus next to Jefferson Lerma. Change the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-2-3. It’s understandable that Quintero scored, but Colombia struggled on the right side of the field and expected Arias to come up and down the field every time, and it’s important to take care of his stamina. Uribe is a box-to-box center midfielder, and he’s an engine which could have helped Colombia in the attack and defending.

Pekerman did not make any changes for the second half and decided to continue playing 4-4-1.

Mistake #2: He decided to put James Rodriguez on for Juan Fernando Quintero. James struggled to make an impact because he was not 100% fit. Everyone knew James was injured and wasn’t going to play the full 90 in this match. He should have used Luis Fernando Muriel over James Rodriguez and let James fully recover. It was a risky decision because he could have gotten injured again and the pain could have been stronger than before. Muriel could have provided more speed and strength on the right side of the field. Colombia decided to let Japan control the match.

Mistake #3: Pekerman decided to put Carlos Bacca over Luis Fernando Muriel for Jose Izquierdo so, he can play next to Radamel Falcao and move James to the middle and play behind them. Changing the formation from 4-4-1 to 4-2-1-2. Santiago Arias and Johan Mojica were already physically drained, and they couldn’t continue going up and down the field to connect with James, Bacca, and Falcao. Both, Arias and Mojica, needed support in the defensive game and the fast breaks.

Recommendations: 

Colombia should change the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 against Poland; David Ospina; Santiago Arias, Yerry Mina, Cristian Zapata, Johan Mojica; Jefferson Lerma, Wilmar Barrios, Mateus Uribe; James Rodriguez, Falcao Garcia, and Luis Fernando Muriel.

This line up will provide more security in the defensive game and create more spaces up front when they’re attacking. Use Cuadrado, Izquierdo, and Quintero for the second half to turn around the game.

Poland lost against Senegal 2-1, but it doesn’t mean that it’s an automatic win for Colombia. Every game has different situations and plays. Poland could easily win or lose against Colombia. It’s important for the manager to correct his mistakes and focus on improving his decision making for the next game.


Picture via Reuters UK

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Alex Guerrero

Born and raised on Long Island, New York. Graduated from Farmingdale State College with a Sports/Business Management degree.
Alex Guerrero
Follow me

Alex Guerrero

Born and raised on Long Island, New York. Graduated from Farmingdale State College with a Sports/Business Management degree.

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